Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim are the only religious identities that are each claimed by at least 5% of Asian American adults. Fewer than 1% of Asian Americans say that their present religion is Daoism or Confucianism. However, 10% of all Asian Americans say they feel close to Confucianism for reasons of culture or ancestry, rather than religion, and 6% say the same about Daoism.
Connections to Confucianism
One-in-ten Asian Americans say they have some tie to Confucianism; this is almost always expressed as a connection aside from religion. In focus groups, several respondents said they considered Confucianism to be more a philosophy than a religion.
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Most Asian Americans who describe themselves as feeling close to Confucianism also identify with a different religion (generally either Christianity or Buddhism) rather than being religiously unaffiliated.
Chinese Americans are significantly more likely than adults in any of the other large Asian origin groups to be religiously unaffiliated and, at the same time, to express a feeling of closeness to Confucianism. Some 13% of Chinese Americans say both of these things. In total, 24% of Chinese Americans express a connection to Confucianism, including 1% who identify Confucianism as their religion. Considerable shares of Korean (22%) and Vietnamese (13%) Americans also have a connection to Confucianism, though in nearly all cases as an affinity, not as their religion.
Connections to Daoism
About 7% of Asian Americans express some connection to Daoism. As with Confucianism, this connection is almost always described as a matter of culture or family background, rather than of religion. Fewer than 1% of Asian American adults say Daoism is their present religion.
Both Daoism and Confucianism originated in China, and they have overlapping histories and tenets, including an emphasis on filial piety, or respecting one’s elders and honoring one’s ancestors. But unlike Confucianism, Daoism has a pantheon of gods or deities along with dedicated clergy.
Roughly two-thirds (69%) of Asian Americans who say they consider themselves close to Daoism also express a similar affinity for Confucianism. About half also identify with a religion, mostly Christianity or Buddhism.
Roughly one-fifth (17%) of Chinese Americans say they have some connection with Daoism.